Title: Mixed Bags (Carter House Girls, Book 1)
Author: Melody Carlson
Primary Audience/age group: Young Adult, ages 13-16
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction
# Of pages: 219
Year of Release: 2008
Part of a Series? Yes. The Carter House Girls Series
Rating: 5 (View Scale)
Description: From book jacket: Mix six teenaged girls and '60s fashion icon (retired, of course) in an old Victorian era boarding home. Add boys and dating, a little high school angst, and throw in a Kate Spade bag or two... and you've got The Carter House Girls, Melody Carlson's new chick lit series for young adults!
Review: In this, the first book in the series, DJ is forced to live with her grandmother when her mother dies. They do not see eye-to-eye on things since DJ would rather wear her basketball uniform than haute couture as her grandmother wishes. As the girls begin to arrive for the school year, each one tries to discover exactly how they fit into their new home.
Rating: 5, although there is a situation dealing with alcohol and some situations of affection (please read recommendation below)
Positive: Each girl comes from different circumstances. One girl is a Christian and tries to be a good influence. The others try to figure her out. Though the girls don't always agree, they do try to work their way through their problems. This book does a good job of showing that situations that arise in teens' lives are not always what they seem and are not always cut and dried.
Spiritual Elements: Mixed Bags is not overly religious. It is a fresh, modern take on each individual girl's walk through her teen life. The professing Christian, Rhiannon, is misunderstood in the household for her forgiving nature.
Violence: none, though there are instances of anger
Sexual Content: Dating is a topic in this book, so attraction and one instance of heavy kissing occurs. There are accusations tossed around of some girls being "easy."
Other: While it would be more comfortable for the alcohol and dating issues to have been left out, that would not have been realistic. They are woven in as part of the storyline and not overwhelming or out of place.
Recommendation: I enjoyed this book that is clearly intended for young adults and not children. I do believe it handles a few weighty issues quite well. It would provide an open door as a conversation starter in helping young people decide how they would handle certain circumstances if they were faced with them. I was glad that this book has a sequel.